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Celebrating Aluttiq Customs and Traditions
Driftwood Journey Curriculum

Lesson Summary
: Learn about Alutiiq customs and traditions, as well as a few Alutiiq words


  • Understand that every culture has its own customs and traditions; understand that these customs are passed down from parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents, and that the students themselves likely will pass down their own customs and traditions when they have children.

Materials needed:

  • “The Red Cedar of Afognak” book

People to be included: Elders


Explore: Ask students to go through the story as a group, stopping to identify Alutiiq customs or traditions when they come to them. Ask children to share what they know about each custom and tradition they encounter in the story:

  • Maqiwik – steam bath (explain how and when they are used)
  • Laptuuk – Alutiiq game played with ball and bat (explain how game is played)
  • Tep’aq & Pukilaaq – logs and small driftwood collected on the beach (explain how driftwood was used)
  • Hunting ar’uq – whale hunting (explain that it was part of a subsistence lifestyle)
  • Ciqlluaq – sod house (explain characteristics of this traditional home)
  • Kapilaaq – collecting driftwood (explain how logs were marked for ownership traditionally)
  • Maaskaaq – mask (explain how masks are used in Alutiiq culture)
  • Talking Circles – used to tell stories and to share information

Generalize: Ask them if they or their family members have participated in any of these customs. Ask them how customs become traditions; how are they passed down from generation to generation. Ask them why customs and cultures are important. Ask them if they know of customs in other cultures that are similar or comparable to these.

Lesson Outline:
    1. A Driftwood Story
    2. Properties of Wood
    3. Cultural Uses of Wood – Past and Present
    4. Tides – Gravitational Pull of the Moon
    5. Wind, Tides and Currents
    6. Earthquakes and Tsunamis
    7. Afognak and the 1964 Tsunami
        (Camp version, classroom version)
    8. Celebration of Trees
        •  Driftwood Art
        •  Driftwood Stories and Poems
    9. Celebrating Alutiiq Customs and Traditions

    Appendix: Resources Used


Driftwood Lessons